Cities around the world have inequity and inaccessibility problems. Transport routes don’t account for disabled passengers, poor infrastructure doesn’t allow folks without cars to get around easily, and subdivisions of land entrench social inequalities.
But smart cities, powered by AI and other technology, have the potential to change this paradigm. Unlike cities without technology, smart cities can learn about inhabitants’ needs and adapt to better serve city residents.
Smart cities can also advocate for better health and wellbeing. AI can observe trends and help city planners make better-informed decisions to promote happiness and greater sustainability.
Cities are usually seen as spaces where anyone, from anywhere, can make it big. This is usually due to higher salaries that are offered in urban spaces which attract rural workers into the city center.
Recent figures from the World Bank suggest that, in places like Latin America, income inequality is generally lower in urban areas. However, many urban areas are still largely segregated based on wealth. This leads to an inequitable use of space, where working-class residents do not have the same access to amenities and services as the wealthy residents.
Smart cities can help improve living conditions for all residents. AI in smart cities gives residents a voice where they may have previously been disregarded. This is already happening in Atlanta, where emerging technology is being used to build better social housing, reduce crime, and improve residents’ quality of life.
Accessibility and Transport
Being able to travel in the city where residents live should be a basic right. However, many cities around the globe are famous for their constant gridlock and lack of alternative means of transport.
Inadequate public transport systems harm city life and exacerbate existing inequality. Disabled residents, who may be particularly reliant upon public transport, stand to gain the most from the adoption of smart cities.
There are a few ways for cities to adopt smart public transport. Currently, Leeds and other cities in the North of England are planning to build a smart metro system that connects residents to the city center and other major hubs around Leeds. A smart metro system can link communities together, provide better work opportunities, and offer a streamlined service based on AI-powered data analysis.
Improved Living Environments
Cities provide opportunities for work and recreation that rural areas usually can’t replicate. However, urban areas can quickly become “concrete jungles” where residents face inequitable health outcomes due to a lack of access to green spaces and poor environmental quality standards.
AI can help city planners improve access to green space by tracking residents’ behaviors and key health indicators. Indicators may include things like smart air quality control monitors and access to fresh, healthy foods. Using these indicators, AI-powered deep learning programs can give city leaders a better understanding of environmental inequality in the city and help residents live more sustainable, healthy lives.
Helping residents live more sustainably isn’t just good for the planet — it’s good for people, too. Residents who go green may experience less anxiety and achieve better health. Green living also promotes community building, as allotments and urban clean-ups bring like-minded residents together.
IoT and Well Being
Cities that harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) in tandem with machine learning programs can improve the well-being of residents and grant greater access to services and amenities.
For the uninitiated, the IoT refers to the connection between “various autonomous devices,” which “collect data and communicate using Wi-Fi connections.” Everything from residents’ smartphones to toll booths can be connected to the IoT and should be used to bring cities into a tech-supported future.
The IoT is also important for folks who work in the city. Technological connectedness reduces accessibility issues and allows people to work wherever they want. This has changed the way people work in the city, as 91% of people say they can get more done when working remotely.
The IoT can support remote working in the city by providing employees with the services they need without having to visit the office. This eliminates transport barriers to finding work for folks who live with a disability and gives residents greater free time due to reduced commuting.
Smart cities are the future of urban living. Equitable spaces can help all residents lead healthier, more fulfilling lives with greater access to job opportunities and amenities that support modern life. Smart cities that utilize the IoT can also help employees work remotely with all the access to wifi and technology that they need. This promotes greater equitability between residents of all incomes.
Smart cities can also promote accessibility. Citizens can move easily in spaces when smart public transport takes precedence over cars. This allows city planners to promote greater access to green spaces and gives residents more places to relax, exercise, and lead more fulfilling lives.